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Hawaiian Airlines Invests In Company Building 100 Passenger Seagliders

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Hawaiian Airlines is joining forces with an aerospace and maritime company that designs and develops all-electric zero-emission seagliders to work on a next-generation 100-passenger all-electric sea glider called the Monarch. While it remains early days, Hawaiian Airlines and the aerospace company, Regent, are eyeing commercial flights as soon as 2028.

A revolution in short-haul coastal flights

Boston-based Regent is on a mission to reduce the costs and hassles of moving people and freight around coastal cities. They build all-electric, wing-in-ground-effect craft that fly within a wingspan of the water’s surface and couples the speed of an airplane with the operating cost of a boat. With the catchy Seaglider tag, the environmentally friendly Monarch gliders will have the same safety standards as all modern aircraft and watercraft.

Regent says their seagliders will service routes up to 180 miles with existing battery technology and routes up to 500 miles with next-gen batteries, all via existing dock infrastructure. The venture capital-backed company is “leveraging maritime vehicle development pathways” to bring its zero-emission, high-speed seagliders to market within five years.

“Seagliders will be a game-changer for sustainable regional transportation in communities such as Hawai‘i,” says Regent CEO Billy Thalheimer. “Through close partnerships with design partners and strategic investors such as Hawaiian Airlines, we can fully understand our operators and unlock their ability to provide zero-emission transportation solutions to their customers.”

Regent’s Monarch seaglider will fly along just meters above the waves. Photo: Regent

Big money backs Regent’s seaglider program

Mr Thalheimer is an MIT graduate and alumnus of Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences. At Aurora, Mr Thalheumer led the Boeing PAV electric air taxi flight physics team before transitioning to program management and business development. While many electric vehicle startups, especially startups involving electric flying vehicles, can be martini-fueled pipedreams, a conga line of venture capital investors have got behind Regent, including Caffeinated Capital, Theil, Soma Capital, Founders Fund, and Kohala Ventures.

The venture capital funds don’t muck around, and the fact they are onboard indicates Regent’s seagliders have a real chance of taking off. And it will be a game-changer for short-haul coastal flights if they do. The seagliders will scoot along at an ultra-low altitude at around 180 miles (290 kilometers) per hour. And when Regent says their craft will fly low, they mean it – the seagliders will cruise around just a few meters above the waves. This sounds like fun!

“Innovative interisland transportation has been core to our business since 1929 when we replaced steamships with airplanes. We are excited to be an early investor in Regent and to be involved in developing their largest seaglider – a vehicle with great potential for Hawaiʻi’,” said Avi Mannis, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Hawaiian Airlines.

Regent’s Monarch seaglider won’t use airport infrastructure. Instead, they will take off and land on water. Photo: Regent

Coastal flying for less than the cost of operating a ferry service

The seagliders can utilize most existing port infrastructure. The prospect of zero-emission, harbor-to-harbor flights around archipelagos such as the Hawaiian Islands for less than the cost of existing planes and ferries is compelling. Hawaiian Airlines is chasing a 2050 net-zero emissions goal, and initiatives like this help it along the way.

For passengers, all-electric planes like Regent’s Monarch seaglider promise to revolutionize short-haul flying up and down coasts, offer island hopping opportunities, and even inland flying where there are substantial bodies of freshwater to take off and land. Imagine flying low over the forests, flying between cities and towns situated on large freshwater rivers and lakes. It’s a big vision. But will Regent and its newest partner, Hawaiian Airlines, have what it takes to bring this vision to fruition?

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